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Why Meghan may have adopted Diana's Cartier watch

Tracey Llewellyn
·3-min read
meghan diana cartier - Getty Images, PA
meghan diana cartier - Getty Images, PA

News that the Duchess of Sussex has been spotted wearing a Cartier Tank that was possibly owned by Harry’s mother Princess Diana should come as no big surprise. Meghan Markle joined in Fortune’s Most Powerful Women virtual summit from her home in California yesterday, and the eagle-eyed spotted a Cartier Tank Française on her wrist that’s believed to be from another most powerful woman: Princess Diana.

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle

Watches have been re-gifted within the royal family for generations, one of the more famous recent occasions being the Vacheron Constantin diamond cocktail watch given to the Queen in 1947 and passed on to Princess Diana on her wedding day in 1981. Since King Edward VII first granted Cartier a Royal Warrant in 1904, it has been a firm favourite of the British royals.

Princess Diana  - Getty Images
Princess Diana - Getty Images

Diana’s own love of the ‘Jeweller of Kings’ is well-documented and, from the moment she joined the royal family she was often spotted wearing both gems and watches from the French house. She is known to have owned both a Tank Louis and Panthère de Cartier, as well as the gold Tank Française reportedly photographed on Meghan Markle. 

It's not the first time the Duchess of Sussex has worn pieces by Princess Diana. On her wedding day in May 2018 she wore an Asprey aquamarine ring belonging to the Princess of Wales as her something blue, and she's been known to wear a pair of butterfly earrings that once belonged to Harry's mother.

Meghan Harry wedding  - Steve Parsons/PA 
Meghan Harry wedding - Steve Parsons/PA

The Duchess herself is also a fan of the Tank model, wearing one since her days in TV show Suits. Her bi-metal version became a symbol of success and empowerment for her, as she told Hello! magazine in 2013: “I’ve always coveted the Cartier French Tank watch.

When I found out Suits had been picked up for our third season - which, at the time, felt like such a milestone - I totally splurged and bought the two-tone version. I had it engraved on the back, 'To M.M. From M.M.' and I plan to give it to my daughter one day. That’s what makes pieces special, the connection you have to them."  

Princess Diana  - Tim Graham/Getty Images
Princess Diana - Tim Graham/Getty Images

Interestingly, for both Prince Harry and Prince William, too, there is a very special relationship with the Tank. In 2003, Vanity Fair reported that following the death of their mother in 1997, both William and Harry were encouraged to choose personal items of Diana’s to keep. It is rumoured that while Harry picked her Garrard engagement ring, William chose one of her Cartier Tanks. When William decided to propose to Kate Middleton, the princes apparently swapped mementos.  

Princess Diana  - Getty Images
Princess Diana - Getty Images

While the Duke of Cambridge is nearly always photographed wearing the Omega Seamaster Quartz 300M that was a gift from his mother, the Tank that he selected is apparently the watch his mother had used to teach him how to tell time. Continuing the Windsor/Cartier relationship, William gave the Duchess of Cambridge a steel Ballon Bleu at the start of the couple’s 2014 tour of Australia and New Zealand.  

As for the Française, from its initial release in 1995, it has remained a staple in the Tank collection with minimal changes to its aesthetic. Identifiable by its distinctive bracelet, said to be based on tank tread-marks, it is available in different metals and sizes and, like its sibling models, its instantly recognisable design remains timeless. Making it more than ideal to pass down through royal generations.

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